The farmer from Bohemia

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Cod. Pal. germ. 76 , sheet 3r - beginning of the 2nd chapter: death demands name and reason for the charge; Manuscript produced in Ludwig Henfflin's workshop around 1470, probably in Stuttgart

Der Ackermann von Böhmen (also: Der Ackermann und der Tod) is a work by Johannes von Tepl , which originated around 1400, was initially distributed in various manuscripts and first appeared in print in Bamberg around 1460 . It was one of the first works in German to have woodcuts.

Content and meaning

The argument between the plowman and death, whom he sued for the death of his wife, is considered one of the most important works of late medieval German literature. In addition to its rhetorical and stylistic status, the text is also of great importance as a source of social and mentality history, among other things because it represents a concept of marriage as a community of love, which is controversial in contemporary theology and which was not taken for granted for a long time . For the first time in medieval literature, a person rebels against death and thereby also criticizes God's omnipotence, to which people have so far submitted. Therefore, the work was at the beginning of the 20th century, e.g. B. by Konrad Burdach , viewed as a forerunner or beginning of humanism in German literature. Later classifications, however, emphasized the aspects of the work that belong more to the Middle Ages.

The work consists of a total of 34 chapters. In the odd chapters, the "plowman" accuses the death that stole his beloved wife from him, in the even chapters death answers. Against the emotions of the "Ackermann" he uses logic, in places also cynicism. In chapter 33 God appears, recognizes the right of the farmer to complain about his suffering, but also the right of death to express the knowledge that all life must die once, without, however, providing a moral justification for it. The accusing Ackermann deserves the honor, but the death the victory. Chapter 34 is a hymn-like prayer of the "plowman" for the soul of his deceased wife with praise to God.

The work is remarkable for its high level of language. It cannot be clearly established whether it is based on an experience of the author (some date the text after the death of Johannes' possibly first wife Margret on August 1, 1400) or whether it is a "learned work" (Christian Kiening) acts on the basis of a fiction.

The text (Chapter I) begins like this:

“Grim destroyer of all lands, most genuine of all worlds, free murderer of all good people, ir dead, be cursed! got, ewer tirmer, hate you, vnselden merung win you over, vngeluck hause tremendously to you: especially shaken for ever! Fear, not vnd ​​jamer don't leave you wherever you wander; guidance, grief and sorrow accompany you everywhere; tiresome contestation, ordinary confidence and general insecurity, which grossly overwhelm you everywhere; Heaven, earth, sun, mone, stars, mer, wag, mountain, fields, valley, awe, the bright abyss, also everything that has life and beings, be fetched from you, unfavorable and cursing eternal! Sinking in wickedness, in jamerigem ellende vanishes and in the repulsive sisters the eighth of god, all people and all possible creation all future time is obese! Vnuerschampter villain, ewer evil Gedechtnuß live and dew towards the end; grawe and fear do not part from you wherever you wander and winet: From me and all men let steady scream about you with twisted hands! "

“Grim destroyer of all people, harmful outlaws of all the world, terrible murderer of all people, death, be cursed! God, your Creator, hate you, immeasurable calamity dwell with you, great misfortune is with you: be completely dishonored forever! Fear, hardship and misery do not leave you wherever you wander; Sorrow, sorrow and grief accompany you everywhere; painful temptation, shameful fear and shameful enmity brutally conquer you in every place! Heaven, earth, sun, moon, celestial bodies, sea, flood, mountain, field, valley, floodplain, the abyss of hell, everything that has life and beings, be wicked to you, unfavorable and curse you forever! Drowned in wickedness, vanished into misery, in the irrevocable heaviest eight of God, of all men and of all creatures remaining during any future time! Insolent villain, your bad memory lives and continues without end; Dread and fear do not part from you wherever you live. From me and all men, woe be shouted over you with clenched hands! "

- Johannes von Tepl : The Plowman from Bohemia (translation by Hans Franck)

Text output

  • Johannes von Tepl: The till man . Due to the German tradition and the Czech adaptation, critical ed. by Willy Krogmann. Wiesbaden 1954.
  • Johannes de Tepla, civis Zacensis, Epistola cum Libello Ackerman and Das Büchlein Ackerman. After the Freiburg Hs. 163 and after the Stuttgart Hs. HB X 23 , edited and translated by Karl Bertau. De Gruyter, Berlin 1994. Vol. 1: Text and translation. ISBN 3-11-014019-5 .

New High German versions

in order of appearance

  • Johannes von Saaz: The plowman from Bohemia. Edited and compared with the Czech counterpart "Tkadlecek" by Johann Knieschek. Prague 1877. ( Digitizedhttp: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/1%3D~GB%3D~IA%3Dbub_gb_htoGAAAAQAAJ~MDZ%3D%0A~SZ%3Dn5~doppelseiten%3D~LT%3DDigitalisat~PUR%3D at the Internet Archive ).
  • The plowman from Bohemia by John of Saaz. Anton Bernt, Heidelberg 1929.
  • Johannes von Tepl: The tiller and death. Transfer from Ernst Günther Carnap. Berlin 1939.
  • Johannes von Saaz: The plowman from Bohemia. Edited by Erich Gierach and transferred by EG Kolbenheyer. Prague 1943.
  • The tiller and death. Translated by Hans Franck , Union Verlag, Berlin 1955.
  • Johannes von Tepl: The tiller and death. A dispute. Translated into New High German by Willy Krogmann. Insel Verlag, Wiesbaden 1957 (= Insel-Bücherei . 198 / C).
  • Johannes von Tepl: The tiller and death. Bilingual. Transmission, notes and afterword by Felix Genzmer , bibliography by Wolfgang Mieder (= Reclams Universal-Bibliothek. 7666). Stuttgart 1963.
  • Johannes von Tepl: The plowman from Bohemia. Translated into New High German by Martin Vosseler. Munich 1972.
  • Johannes von Tepl: The till man. Ed., Translated and commented by Christian Kiening. Stuttgart 2000.

Radio play version

Musical arrangements

  • Helmut Bieler : The tiller from Bohemia. Oratorio. Libretto: Dietrich W. Hübsch (based on the work of the same name by Johannes von Tepl)
    • Version for female speaker, 2 speakers, alto, baritone, organ, synthesizer, percussion and tape (1977, revised 1982). Premiere 1977 Bad Hersfeld. Revised version: Premiere 1978
    • Version for 2 speakers, organ, synthesizer, percussion and tape (1978)
  • Dorothea Hofmann : Der Ackermann from Böhmen (2015, after Johannes von Tepl). Organ music for a dispute. Premiere October 17th, 2015 Fürth (St. Michael). Sirka Schwartz-Uppendieck (organ), Heiko Ruprecht (Ackermann), Michael Vogtmann (death)

Research literature

in order of appearance

  • Gerhard Hahn : The unity of the Ackermann from Bohemia. Studies on composition (= Munich texts and studies on German literature of the Middle Ages. Volume 5). Beck, Munich 1963
  • Hans Rupprich , Hedwig Heger : The German literature from the late Middle Ages to the Baroque. First part. The late Middle Ages, Humanism and Renaissance 1370–1520 . 2nd Edition. CH Beck, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-406-37898-6 , p. 393-400 (first edition: 1970).
  • Ernst Schwarz (Hrsg.): The plowman from Bohemia of Johannes von Tepl and his time. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1968.
  • Antonín Hrubý: The "Plowman" and his model. Munich 1971.
  • Rosemarie Natt: The "Ackerman from Bohemia" by Johannes von Tepl. A contribution to the interpretation. Göppingen 1978.
  • Karl Bertau : Johannes de Tepla, civis Zacensis, Epistola cum Libello Ackerman and Das Büchlein Ackerman. After the Freiburg Hs. 163 and after the Stuttgart Hs. HB X 23, edited and translated by Karl Bertau. De Gruyter, Berlin 1994. Volume 2: Investigations. Introduction, studies on the cover letter and on chapters 1 to 34 of the text and vocabulary with excursions. ISBN 3-11-014634-7 .
  • Christian Kiening : Difficult modernity. The "Ackermann" of Johannes von Teplá and the ambiguity of historical change. Tubingen 1998.
  • Albrecht Hausmann: The "Ackermann from Böhmen" and the Prague Jews around 1400. In: Contributions to the history of the German language and literature. 125, No. 2, 2003, pp. 292-323.
  • Hildegunde Gehrke: The terms "Middle Ages", "Humanism" and "Renaissance" in the interpretations of "Ackermann from Böhmen". Göppingen 2004 (= Diss. University of Mannheim).

Web links

Wikisource: The Plowman from Bohemia  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Beutin: German literary history: From the beginnings to the present . Springer-Verlag, 2016, ISBN 978-3-476-00813-8 , pp. 62 .
  2. Kirsten Serup-Bilfeld: God no longer wanted to die . Deutschlandfunk - day after day, April 4, 2016